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The Challenge: Track Nutrients in Water to Protect Health



This project is important to me because it brings technology innovation to one of the most critical environmental issues in our nation and around the world, bringing together the primary federal agencies who are involved in solving this problem.

Nutrient pollution in bodies of water – too much nitrogen or phosphorous, for example – harms human health and the economy. To address the problem, you need good data.

A coalition of federal agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and United States Geological Survey (USGS) – has launched the Nutrient Sensor Challenge, a competition for the nation’s innovators to develop sensors that measure nutrients in aquatic environments. The coalition hopes the challenge will stimulate the market and accelerate the development of the technology needed to understand where nutrients come from and how they travel through waterways.

“The impacts of nutrient pollution are many and costly, as are the investments being made to combat the problem. This competition is an opportunity to make these investments and decisions more data-driven and effective,” said Beth Stauffer, 2013-15 Executive Branch Fellow at EPA. Stauffer has devoted the bulk of her time as a fellow to developing the challenge and preparing for its launch along with agency partners. Tova Sardot, 2014-15 Executive Branch Fellow at EPA, has also contributed to the effort.